By Kristian Dyer
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It has the look and feel of a debacle. In other words, it is something that only the Mets could conceive to come up with.
Mention the name Jose Reyes and Mets fans are filled with mixed emotions. Reyes was that rare talent coming up through the minor leagues who could field, run, hit for average and occasionally round the bases. He had all the tools to make himself one of the best in the game but nagging injuries and a penchant for selfishness always seemed to drag him down, closer to the ordinary than what his God-given talents would suggest he was capable of doing.
So to honor Reyes with a video tribute – as the Mets are planning to do on Tuesday night in his return to Citi Field – well, it just doesn’t make sense.
Despite the intangibles and his physical prowess, Reyes was never the MVP of the National League and was an All-Star “just” four times in his nine years in New York, a disappointment given a set of physical tools that may be the best in baseball.
Since he came up from the minor leagues in 2003, the Mets have had just four winning seasons with Reyes in the lineup and made the playoffs just once. Some of those teams were miserable and baseball is dotted with plenty of great players who have never made the playoffs let alone win the World Series. But Reyes seemed to fail at delivering in the clutch or consistently being the sparkplug the Mets needed those rare years when they were contenders.
His legacy, simply put, is mixed and to honor Reyes – even if only with a video tribute – is to honor someone whose time with the Mets was a disappointment.
But there’s another reason why the Mets should avoid honoring Reyes. In fact, there’s 106 million reasons to avoid honoring Reyes.
In early December, Reyes agreed to a six-year contract with the Marlins for $106 million, a move that suddenly made the Miami-based team a contender in the division and also made Reyes, whose previous nine years were all spent in New York, the enemy. No one should begrudge Reyes for taking the money or his talents to South Beach – but he was the one who left this team. He wasn’t dealt on the trade deadline for a bevy of prospects, cutting his time in New York short. He left and turned his back on this team. Right or wrong, that was the end result of his departure.
Reyes, for whatever reason, left Flushing Meadows of his own free will. To honor him is a head-scratcher.
He made the decision to bolt and the Mets made the decision that the return on investment on Reyes was not equal to the contract that the Marlins offered. The Marlins overpaid to land Reyes so as to have a centerpiece to help fill their new (albeit gaudy) stadium. It was a value judgment and the Mets decided to let their star shortstop walk.
Now, they’re choosing to embrace a player who mixed equal parts ability and talent with selfishness. More than anything, these Mets have done everything they can to take their team the opposite direction of prima donnas like Reyes.
It should be no surprise that the Mets are off to a decent start, an 8-8 record after Monday’s doubleheader, without Reyes. This team is short on true superstars and instead is dotted up and down the lineup and rotation with hardworking, team-first type players. It may be just 16 games, but the Mets players have clearly turned the page on Reyes’ tenure here in New York.
To flip the power on the outfield jumbo screen Tuesday night to relive this dodgy tenure with the team shows that while the team has moved beyond the player – the enigma that is Reyes – management clearly hasn’t let go yet.
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
Do you think the Reyes video tribute is a classy move or way off base? Sound off below…